Nevada community colleges to get more funding for hi-tech | 2017 Nevada Legislature
Between funding generated by enrollment growth and a formula change that will provide more money per credit hour for career and technical education programs, Nevada’s community college presidents say they will be in better financial shape for the coming budget cycle.
The proposed budget approved by the Board of Regents and recommended by Gov. Brian Sandoval includes $21.4 million in career and technical education funding for those campuses, primarily to pay for doubling what the formula pays per credit in classes such as advanced manufacturing.
Acting Chancellor John White told the legislative budget subcommittee on Wednesday that change was made to recognize the fact many of those programs require small size classes and expensive equipment for students to learn on.
The formula approved in 2013 pays colleges and the two universities a certain amount for each credit hour completed by students. Those amounts vary according to the investment in equipment and class size requirements. As an example, a simple English class is weighted lower than an engineering class. That wasn’t recognized at the community colleges until this budget cycle.
College of Southern Nevada President Michael Richards said the revised weighting “more accurately reflects the reality of teaching and learning in these high-cost disciplines.”
Of the $21.4 million to pay for that formula change, Western Nevada College will only get $2.28 million during the biennium. While that’s not much more than WNC got in bridge funding this cycle, according to system officials, that coupled with the more than $532,000 a year WNC will get from increased enrollment will help the school meet the growing demand for skilled workers.
WNC plans to use the money to convert part time grant-funded faculty to full time employees to expand existing CTE programs. The college is also planning a major expansion in advanced manufacturing programs in partnership with Silver Springs High in Lyon County.
In addition, the Siemens Mechatronics program, the only one of its kind west of the Mississippi, will expand and upgrade.
But college officials report WNC still needs funding to update equipment used to teach those hi-tech classes since existing equipment is rapidly becoming obsolete.
Truckee Meadows Community College in Reno will get about $4.42 million of the money. It plans to use it to expand the unmanned aircraft technician program as well as the HVAC training program needed by companies such as Switch and expansion of programs needed by Tesla and Panasonic.
Great Basin College will get $4.32 million to continue grant funded positions that will sunset in June. The school will also create new programs in electrical technology in Ely and a precision production program in Pahrump.
Fully half the $21.4 million, $10.67 million, goes to College of Southern Nevada for a variety of programs including building inspection, construction management, air conditioning technology and logistics.
TMCC President Karin Hilgersom told lawmakers the goal is to “offer programs that are state of the art.” She said those hi-tech companies “are truly changing the way that we operate.”